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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rock on, Betty and Coretta...

As the body of Coretta Scott King lies in state at the Georgia State House, word has arrived that Betty Friedan, the author of the groundbreaking book "The Feminine Mystique," has died.

In this time where Democrats are quick to surrender women's control over their bodies and lives for a mess of political pottage, all in the name of a "big tent" Democratic Party, these deaths remind us that it wasn't so long ago that women had no control over their lives.

Feminist writers wrote again and again, at the risk of being arrested and imprisoned back in the early part of the 20th Century, of the critical importance of a woman having control over her fertility as the first step to women being able to live their lives as they saw fit, not as male controlled technologies of human reproduction. The right of women to vote and to hold property in their own name was useless without the right to not have to deal with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. The Pill, IUDs, and The Shot, along with safe and legal abortion as a second line defense in the rare case of those very reliable methods of birth control failing, has meant that women can in theory attain any goal they want to work towards in their lives.

Now, more women than men attain advanced degrees. Now, women hold some positions of authority in our society: not in numbers commensurate with the 49 to 51 ratio of men to women, of course, but it's getting there. We've never had a woman president, but Pakistan did, a generation ago a woman became Prime Minister of Britain, and a woman is now Chancellor of Germany. Japan is wrestling with the possibility of opening up the culturally significant role of Emperor to a female heir, something not seen for over a thousand years there.

But alas, the forces of reaction have also been afoot, and in many parts of the world including here in the United States so much of the progress that has been made since the publication of Friedan's clarion call for greater status of women is creeping inexorably backward. With four reactionary Supreme Court justices now seated, two of which were appointed by President George W. Bush, there need only be one defection from the "moderate" side of the bench to scuttle Roe v. Wade. If, goddess forbid, another Supreme Court justice dies before Bush is impeached and removed, it is likely the court will tip towards an anti-Choice activist stance. Not only Roe v. Wade, but Comstock, the decision that legalized contraception in the United States, would also fall.

Will the Women's Movement go down in history as having made permanent change in the status of women in the United States? Or will this revolution be as fleeting as the Prague Spring or the Chinese "Goddess of Democracy" revolt? Is the sad fate of women in the radicalizing Islamic world also going to be our fate here in the good ole US of A?

We have gone so far in the time since "The Feminine Mystique" was published. But what the death of Betty Friedan drives home to me is how fragile women's equality really is. Quisling Democrats who would sell women out should have no place in the Democratic Party. They should be directed to the GOP, which is their natural home. Fuck the big tent! It should be a matter of principle in the Democratic Party as irrevocable as any iron plank in the GOP theocratic platform that women should have access to safe and legal abortion and safe, effective contraception, now and forever, amen. Do we stand with the 51 percent of Americans who are born female and their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or do we stand with the minority of the 49 percent of men, the blackguards who wish to turn them back into baby factories and household appliances?

The deaths of Betty Friedan and Coretta Scott King should galvanize us to take a strong stand. No more diddling with anti-Choice, pro-Death pseudo-Progressives. If the Democratic Party will not take such a stance, it's time to revive a Feminist third party. Punto. End of story.